For a man in a carrot suit, Jordan Maddocks couldn’t be more patient or accommodating.

Since the Deseret News wasn’t there a month ago at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Phoenix to see him set a world vegetable record by running 26.2 miles dressed as a carrot, Jordan has agreed to put the suit back on and replicate the clicking-his-heels kick he performed when he crossed the finish line.

Photographer Kristin Murphy wants to get it just right, which means some retakes, and then some more retakes on a snowy dirt road behind the business he and his wife, JessaKae, own in Lehi. Jordan is nonplussed. Imagine a cocker spaniel in a carrot suit. Want another one? No problem. He isn’t even breathing hard. He could do this all day.

All of which is fitting for a man who has certainly taken his time getting to this point.

At an age when a lot of athletes are thinking seriously about retiring — Jordan is 35 — he’s never been faster, or quicker, or had more energy, or had more audacious goals.

When Kristin tells him she’s got the shot she wanted, he almost looks disappointed.

If you’re looking for a story about it never being too late to up your game, consider this one: for 12 straight years Jordan Maddocks ran marathons and never broke the four-hour barrier.

Now, he’s got his sights set on the Olympic Trials.

“It’s amazing what the human body is capable of taking on and doing,” he says. After more than a decade of running, “I found a part of me that’s always been there but just wasn’t activated.”

For years, ever since he ran his first marathon in 412 hours when he was 19 years old, Jordan was content with staying in the pack. He loved how running made him feel and credited it with turning his life around. After spending, or misspending, his teenage years with too much substance abuse — he didn’t go out for the cross-country or track teams in high school — running became his go-to drug.

“Running became my release, my therapy. I just don’t know what my life would be like without it,” he says. “I owe so much to running, for what it’s done for me and what it’s kept me away from.”

Once he started running long distances, he always had goals. After that first marathon he set his sights on finishing a circuit of six marathons in a calendar year, earning a silver Superman medal he shows off to this day.

Once that was checked off, he decided to complete a full Ironman triathlon, adding a 112-mile bike ride and 2 ½-mile swim to the marathon.

He crossed that off his list too. But if he was a lot more fit, he still wasn’t very fast. After dozens of marathons, his best time was 4:02.

In 2016 he decided to set another goal: to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In his age group, the qualifying time was three hours.

That meant he needed to knock an hour and two minutes off his personal best; AKA an eternity.

He knew he needed help. He asked the legendary ultrarunner Tommy Rivers Puzey, the toughest, fastest runner he knew, if he’d coach him. Puzey said yes, on one condition: that he’d never skip a workout.

Jordan agreed, and suddenly found himself in a very different world. He was introduced to “the next level of hard.”

“It didn’t come all of a sudden, it was all steps, little by little,” he says. “I had to fake it ’til I could make it. But I couldn’t believe what was happening.”

What was happening was the minutes were disappearing. He broke the four-hour barrier, he broke the 3 ½-hour barrier. Then, for the 2018 Mount Charleston Marathon in Las Vegas, he looked up at the finish line to see 2:49 on the clock. He’d qualified for Boston with 11 minutes to spare. At the 2019 Boston Marathon, on a tough course filled with elite runners, he broke the three-hour barrier again, finishing in 2:59.

All of this is leading to the carrot suit — and before that, the banana suit.

Jordan Maddocks, who set a record for running the fastest marathon dressed as a carrot, answers interview questions at JessaKae, which he owns with his wife, in Lehi on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Throughout his marathon odyssey, the staple has always been the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Phoenix. He’s never missed one since he completed his first marathon there in 2006. In 2019, a friend of his, Todd Chiniquy, had just endured lung transplant surgery. In tribute to Todd, always a life-of-the-party person, Jordan decided a banana suit was a fitting salute.

He ran 2:47 as a banana and liked it so much he ran as a banana again in 2020, this time in 2:41 (both were faster than the Guinness World Record for a banana marathon, but were not properly documented).

Last month, for the 2022 Rock ‘n’ Roll, he switched to the carrot suit “because I wanted to do a different food group.”

And because he had a new cause to support: the Release Recovery Foundation, an organization that helps people struggling with addiction and mental illness, particularly those who can’t afford treatments. Jordan donated the $5,000 he received from his sponsor, Green Giant, to the foundation.

He also went through all the hoops required by Guiness and just last week was notified his 2:44 time makes him officially the fastest vegetable in history.

And now: the Olympic trials of 2024 are on his horizon.

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Jordan is aware that running for the USA in the Paris Olympics isn’t realistic — he’d have to finish in the top three to make the Games — but to be one of the 150 or so of the country’s top marathoners who qualify for the trials, that’s something to shoot for.

The qualifying time is 2:17. It means over the next two years he needs to somehow, some way, trim 16 minutes off his fastest outdoor marathon of 2:33. He has a nutritionist, a pilates coach, a team of orthopedic doctors and a new running coach, Isaac Wood (Tommy Rivers Puzey is battling cancer), to help him see if he can do it.

“I’ll be almost 38 for the trials. I hope my body holds up,” he says, “But I’m willing to chop the wood and carry the water and do it every single day.”

The carrot suit? He’ll probably ditch it if he makes it. Then again, maybe not. The unconventional route has got him this far, it might take him all the way.

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